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Gardening: Blue Orchard Mason Bees

The Blue Orchard Mason bee is a wonderful insect to have around your home. Encourage them to set up home in your garden and they will reward you by pollinating your fruiting plants. They are extremely productive and do not sting.

Description

Mason bees are a solitary bee, meaning they don’t swarm or work together to build large communal nests. Each individual bee lays its eggs in holes in wood or mason and it partitions each egg off with its own supply of pollen by placing a layer of mud between each egg that it lays. (This is where they get their name) The eggs hatch and feed off the supply of pollen and nectar in which it was placed. This all happens in early spring when Pieris japonica are blooming. ie. They emerge around mid-February.

Supplies

Orchard Bees usually make their nests in small holes around the garden in wood or mason but you can give them the perfect nesting spot by placing a nesting box in a warm West facing wall. The nest should be protected from the rain (under an overhang).

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Nesting tubes

You can also make a nest yourself and just place Ezy-Harvest nesting tubes

Viewing nesting box

And finally: If you want to watch how they go about creating these interesting nests you can get a Viewing nest. These have a clear plastic partition in them so you can see the development.